Understand your body clock

Understand your body clock

25% of the population are early risers and 25% of the population are night owls, the rest lie somewhere in-between.

Section Brain, Eyes and Head

We are all different and we all have our unique body clocks. Some of us function better in the morning, while others peak late at night. That in itself is no problem. It only becomes one if we are out of sync with what society tells us to do or if our partners have different sleep patterns which means waking each other up.

What happens during a normal day?

The typical day

How does the body clock work?

The center of our body clock lies deep inside our brains, in the hypothalamus to be precise. This is a small region located near the base of the brain and is crucial for releasing hormones and regulating our body’s temperature. It is here that a release of hormones makes us wake up and go to sleep.
In controlled experiments, where contestants were kept in a darkened room with no fluctuation in temperature, the body would make up its own rhythmic clock which follows a roughly 24-hour day. But as we live in an environment that is regulated by day and night, our body clock resets each day to stay in sync with the path of the sun and the moon.

Our eyes filter the intensity of the surrounding sunlight and tell the brain if it is day or night. Bright blue light mimics daylight and orange/yellow candlelight sends us to sleep.

What happens on a daily basis?

A gene called ‘period’ is responsible for our waking and sleeping process. Inside the nucleus copies of this gene’s protein are made and transported to the outer cell. There they swivel around and we are awake. Later in the day, a second protein is produced which has the sole function to bring the first protein back into the cell again. Once the concentration of the 2nd protein has reached a certain level it shuts down the copying process of the first protein. As a consequence, we start to feel tired and both proteins break fully down.

Then we go to sleep and the next morning it happens all over again. As mentioned before this copying and breaking down process keeps roughly to a 24-hour rhythm.

But nobody is the same. It all depends on the individual’s efficiency of this copying and breaking down process. This means some people need more sleep than others. Also, the timing of these ‘protein clocks’ is not the same but varies from person to person.

When it comes to optimum concentration, reaction, and physical peak times, we all act as individuals. It actually does not matter when your peak performance is, as long as you keep to a steady rhythm. The problem arises when you keep on shifting your circadian rhythm (as your inner body clock is better known).

Latest scientific tests have shown that shift workers who permanently change their sleep patterns have an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

Sometimes you can’t help these changes, for example when the clocks go forward or backward or you travel to another time zone.

However, there are tips that you can employ to improve your health should you be forced to change your rhythm on an occasional basis.

Social jet lag:

This usually affects night owls. They go to bed later than the rest of the population, but due to work commitments, they have to rise much earlier than their body clock is ready for.
It gets worse when their partner is a normal sleeper or even an early riser, as both spouses will naturally disrupt each other’s sleep pattern.

If this happens to you, here are some solutions:
1) Separate bedrooms
2) Ear plugs and eye masks for each person, so that sleep is not interrupted by the other person’s sleep pattern. Additionally, each person should change to a job that suits their own personal rhythm. Like free-lance work or even evening work for night owls, early shifts for early risers.
3) Change your sleep pattern. If you are a night owl, expose yourself to a lot of daylight during the morning and stay off tablets and phones (blue light) during the evening. If you still need to work on the computer or use your tablet/phone make sure you have a ‘night mode’ option switched on.
If you are an early riser, seek more daylight during the afternoon, and working on the computer in the evening won’t be a problem for you, in fact, it will keep you awake longer.


Here are some tips to combat jetlag.
If you travel east expose yourself to more sunlight in the morning which will shift your body clock to the earlier timezone.
Go west and do the opposite. If you only go on a short business trip try to stay as much as you can within your ‘own time zone’.

Night shifts:

If you need to work shifts then try to opt for work that keeps to a similar pattern. If you work continually nights, then try to keep to that pattern and crucially do not change the habit when you are off work. If you come home and it is already daylight, wear special glasses that mimic evening light to block out the blue daylight, and when you go to sleep wear an eye mask that blocks out the blue daylight.

I hope that in the not-too-distant future employers will be made aware of how damaging varying shift patterns are for their workforce and once fully understood will change work arrangements to suit individual’s rhythm. This would make for a more productive and happy workforce.

Keeping fit and healthy from head to toe – Brain function, eyes and head

Keeping fit and healthy from head to toe – Brain function, eyes and head

Today’s highlighted body region contains the eyes, brain, and head. Pay extra attention to this region, exercise it, and look after it! Below you find some tips and recipes. You can do these also on other days, but use this symbol as a reminder, and after all today is the best day to do it.

Meditate and ‘pull the switch’ in your happy place

Find some time during the day to shut your eyes for a few minutes. I suggest you find a particular relaxing piece of music that is roughly 5-7 minutes long (it could also be 2-3 songs). Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes closed. Remove yourself from the world around you. ‘Pull the ‘off switch’ on the world around you and try to avoid any intrusive thoughts about work problems or other events. Just be in the moment. Now introduce a picture of your happy place, your choice of music can be coordinated with your visualization. It could be lying on a beach with the waves gently lapping to the shore, a hut in a jungle, or an Alpine field full of flowers and crips sunshine. It does not matter, except it should be a place full of nature, clean air with a soothing atmosphere. Take a deep breath in, expand your belly and hold as long as you can, and then exhale, drawing your belly in, getting rid of all the air together with stress and problems. Carry on gently until the music is finished.

Keep always to the same music and place, so your unconscious mind gets triggered to relax. Try to do this once a day or whenever there is a need. With busy lives, we often forget to ‘pull the switch and relax’. This symbol will trigger should act as a reminder to take a few minutes out of our busy schedule and to escape to our ‘happy place’.

A good night’s sleep

and its effect should not be underestimated. We all have our unique circadian rhythms and sleeping patterns.  Here is an article that explains how our circadian rhythm works

If you have frequent trouble going to sleep, here is an old folkloric tradition to use small cushions either filled with lavender or hop cones and flowers (hop cushions).

Both lavender and hop cushions are known for their potential calming and sleep-inducing properties. Let’s explore each one:


  1. Lavender:
    • Benefits:
      • Lavender is widely recognized for its soothing aroma, which may help reduce stress and anxiety.
      • It is believed to promote relaxation and calmness, potentially aiding in falling asleep.
      • Some studies suggest that lavender may have mild sedative effects.
    • How to use:
      • You can use lavender essential oil to infuse the cushion with its scent.
      • Lavender sachets or dried lavender flowers can also be placed inside the cushion. Use dried lavender from your garden if you grow it.
  2. Hops:
    • Benefits:
      • Hops are commonly associated with the brewing of beer, but they also have calming properties.
      • The hop plant contains compounds that may have mild sedative effects and promote sleep.
    • How to use:
      • Similar to lavender, you can use hop essential oil or dried hop flowers to fill the cushion.
      • Hops are sometimes used in combination with other herbs to enhance their sleep-promoting effects.

Choosing Between Lavender and Hops:

  • Personal Preference: Some people find the scent of lavender more appealing and soothing, while others may prefer the earthy aroma of hops.
  • Combination: You can also consider using a combination of both lavender and hops for a unique blend of scents.

Additional Tips for Better Sleep:

  • Ensure your sleep environment is cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine.
  • Limit screen time before bed to promote melatonin production.
  • Avoid caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of lavender or hop cushions may vary from person to person. It’s a good idea to try each one separately or in combination and see which works best for you. Creating a relaxing bedtime routine and maintaining a healthy sleep environment are also crucial factors in improving sleep quality.

Train your brain

When you commute or wait for a doctor’s appointment or have some time to spare, instead of googling on your phone, find an app/quiz and train your mind. Start this when you are young and keep it up to old age. It is a short and fun way to keep your mind active. Another way is to learn something ‘by heart’ such as a poem or lyrics to a song. Then recall on numerous occasions. Once it gets too easy, move on to the next text.

Test your eyes

Today is a good reminder to book yourself in for an eye test, update glasses, or contact prescriptions. It is also a good day for an eye test or choosing new glasses/contact lenses.
To soothe tired eyes: Take a few common poppy leaves and boil them to a pulp, once warm, apply them to your eyelids. You can also buy poppy tea bags to make an infusion. Wet 2 cotton buds place them on your eyes and drink the rest as poppy tea calms and helps with insomnia (see section above).

Scalp Tonic to keep healthy hair

Every time you wash your hair, try to rub your scalp with nettle tea. This will help keep your scalp healthy and prevent hair loss. This is a very old recipe from my grandmother and it works. It can be combined with the right dates for haircutting or just applied after a wash.  Here is how to do it. 

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